The NBA lockout has claimed what would have been the start of the regular season this week. With no hope in sight of the season starting anytime soon, fans and ticket brokers are looking to charity and exhibition games to keep up interest in the sport.
The NBA lockout tour — a six-game, two-week tour featuring some of the NBA’s biggest stars — was slated to begin Sunday, October 30, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. But that start has been postponed indefinitely due to a lack of commitment by the players.
According to the Associated Press, a new date for the San Juan game could be announced in the near future. ESPN.com reported that much of the proceeds from the tour would go to charity, while players would each receive a paycheck of between $500,000 and $1 million.
Amy Carpenter, vice president of marketing for TicketCity, told TicketNews that the tour still might work if additional games are played.
“There are definitely additional locations where there would be interest, but there’s also the consideration of which markets could bear the cost of the tickets,” Carpenter said. “Of course, there’s also player time commitments and the extensive travel to consider.”
Several of the players withdrew prior to the proposed start of the tour, which led to questions about whether the trip would ever happen. Many players reportedly cited prior commitments as their reason for backing out, while some wanted to spend more time with family or make themselves available for labor meetings.
“The tour, like some of the charity and exhibition games, [would keep] basketball on fans’ minds during a time of uncertainty. It says, ‘The season may be on pause, but basketball isn’t,'” Carpenter said.
The last NBA lockout, which began in 1998, lasted until January 1999 and resulted in a truncated 50-game season instead of the normal 82. The league is anticipating the cancellation of two more weeks of the 2011-2012 season, according to the New York Daily News.
Many in the league fear that if a new labor deal is not completed soon, NBA games could also be cancelled through Christmas Day. According to NBA.com, Christmas is the biggest regular-season day for the league, with games running from noon to late at night. Losing Christmas Day would be a big loss in terms of ticket sales and TV ratings.